Despite the fact that I'm in a 100% commission based sales position where reviews and referrals are of the upmost importance, I am not very good at asking past clients for recommendations. So when I saw the email from Yelp Thursday night stating that I had a new review, I was excited with the anticipation of finding out who had taken the time to actually review me. But that excitement turned to a sunken heart when I saw the 1 Star rating and the word "unprofessional" in the first line of the review. And it only got worse from there.
The reviewer continued on stating things like, "This person is as unprofessional as it gets without putting on a clown costume, wig and a fake flower that squirts water” And later stated, “I’m surprised he was able to dial the number I provided.” He also stated “…many times I tried to work with Ray…” and “…people like you truly deserve to go out of business.” He called the other people who had reviewed me on Yelp, “…some goobers you (were) able to get over…”
I couldn't believe what I was reading and was mortified that someone felt so much anger & hatred toward me. What made it even more frustrating was that I didn't know who he was because he gave no clues other than saying he contacted me about my Huntington Beach listing. In his review, he stated he offered “way over the sales price” of my listing and I ignored him and sold to someone else for much less than his offer. An absurd accusation.
I left a very polite comment stating I was sorry he had such a bad experience & that I took criticism very seriously. I asked him to private message me the details of our interaction so I could research his issue further. I figured there was no sense in going back and forth on a public forum and airing our argument for all to see. Instead of privately messaging me back, he amended his review online with even more vitriolic comments. Luckily, he inserted a screenshot of a text message I had responded to over 3 months ago. Thankfully, with that, I was able to go back and find that text, which led me to finding out who he was and…” the rest of the story".
What I found was that his review was completely false. I assume he was just ignoring the facts and was angry at himself for missing an opportunity. I believe he wanted to take it out on me instead of claiming responsibility for his own failure.
I wasn’t sure what to do because I didn't want to argue back and forth on the Yelp public forum. My wife advised me to just “let it go” because “you can’t please everyone”. Until she actually read his review and wanted to take a bat to him. Ha! So I sent him a very, very detailed and lengthy email. In my email, I included several screenshots of all interaction he and I had together. My email was clearly proof positive that he was wrong and that I had conducted business quickly, concisely & professionally. My email, by the way, was also very professional and businesslike. It was also apologetic for his obvious misperception, although I believed no one in their right mind would have the same misperception.
To make a really long story not quite as long, he finally kinda, sorta, maybe admitted slightly that I might be right and that his review was not all that fair. Without me asking, he went back on Yelp and deleted his review. Whew!
But this whole ordeal made me realize the power of the online review and how even a misperception can leave a devastating black mark on my own personal business.
None of what his review stated was accurate, yet there it was on display for all to see. I wonder if anyone saw the review and decided to take their business elsewhere because of it. I hope not. For several days, I was somewhat distraught and in a little bit of a panic. I internalize criticism and take it very seriously. Even when it’s false and baseless.
From now on, I really need to break away from my reluctance to "bother my clients & friends" and I need to be more diligent in asking for reviews and recommendations. It takes at least 10 good reviews or more to offset one bad one. And I can't leave that up to chance. It's too important to my continued business success which in turn drastically affects my family's well being.